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Think the World Series is a mismatch, that the Red Sox are taking on a Dodgers team that represents the regular-season JV champions? Think again.

Lift the hoods, check around both engines, and it quickly becomes clear that the Red Sox and Dodgers are both elite, well-built, balanced teams that are worthy competitors in the World Series.

The Red Sox, of course, have been the most consistent team in baseball this year, and indeed one of the most consistent of all time. They marched to 108 regular-season victories and have steamrolled a pair of formidable foes in the playoffs, going 7-2 against the Yankees and Astros.

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That’s the path that the Dodgers took to the World Series in 2017 — but not the one they’ve traveled in 2018. Los Angeles was pushed in the division in the regular season, required a one-game playoff to edge out the Rockies for the NL West title, then slogged through an ugly seven-game NLCS against the Brewers to squeak into the World Series.

Based on those 2018 trajectories, it would be easy to conclude that there’s a significant talent gap between the teams. Upon closer examination, such a view seems misguided.

The Red Sox were ruthlessly efficient, winning 108 games in a season in which their run differential suggested a 102-60 team. Based on run differential, the Dodgers actually had an almost identical projected record of 102-61, but they underperformed that projection. Los Angeles actually outscored its opponents by more runs this year (196) than it did in 2017 (190).

Despite that, there are plenty of similarities between the two clubs. The Red Sox feature a 1-through-9 lineup that outscored every other team in the majors. Their offense is capable of explosiveness but also can manufacture runs by assembling singles, walks, steals, and doubles into sustained rallies.

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How the Red Sox and Dodgers stack up () denotes league-wide ranking
OFFENSE
Category Red Sox Dodgers
Runs/Game 5.4 (1) 4.9 (5)
Average .268 (1) .250 (14)
OBP .339 (1) .333 (5)
Slugging .453 (1) .442 (3)
HR 208 (9) 235 (2)
% of runs on HRs 39.3 (18) 42.3 (10)
Win Pct when hitting a HR .780 (1) .636 (12)
Win Pct when not hitting HR .434 (1) .357 (8)
SB 125 (3) 75 (17)
BB Rate 9.0 % (8) 10.2 % (1)
K Rate 19.9 % (28) 22.6 % (14)
Chase rate (swings at pitches out of the strike zone) 29.9 % (20) 27.2 % (30)
PITCHING
Category Red Sox Dodgers
Runs/Game 3.99 (6) 3.72 (2)
ERA 3.75 (8) 3.32 (2)
Rotation 3.77 (8) 3.19 (1)
Bullpen 3.74 (9) 3.72 (8)
Strikeouts per 9 innings 9.6 (3) 9.5 (4)
Rotation 9.6 (4) 9.5 (5)
Bullpen 9.6 (6) 9.7 (5)
Walks per 9 innings 3.2 (14) 2.6 (3)
Rotation 2.7 (7) 2.2 (2)
Bullpen 3.8 (22) 3.1 (4)
Batting Average Against .234 (7) .228 (4)
Rotation .236 (9) .227 (4)
Bullpen .232 (9) .229 (7)
HRs per 9 innings 1.1 (10) 1.1 (11)
Rotation 1.2 (15) 1.1 (6)
Bullpen 1.0 (10) 1.2 (23)
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, BaseballSavant.com
How the Red Sox and Dodgers stack up () denotes league-wide ranking
OFFENSE
Category Red Sox Dodgers
Runs/Game 5.4 (1) 4.9 (5)
Average .268 (1) .250 (14)
OBP .339 (1) .333 (5)
Slugging .453 (1) .442 (3)
HR 208 (9) 235 (2)
% of runs on HRs 39.3 (18) 42.3 (10)
Win Pct when hitting a HR .780 (1) .636 (12)
Win Pct when not hitting HR .434 (1) .357 (8)
SB 125 (3) 75 (17)
BB Rate 9.0 % (8) 10.2 % (1)
K Rate 19.9 % (28) 22.6 % (14)
Chase rate (swings at pitches out of the strike zone) 29.9 % (20) 27.2 % (30)
PITCHING
Category Red Sox Dodgers
Runs/Game 3.99 (6) 3.72 (2)
ERA 3.75 (8) 3.32 (2)
Rotation 3.77 (8) 3.19 (1)
Bullpen 3.74 (9) 3.72 (8)
Strikeouts per 9 innings 9.6 (3) 9.5 (4)
Rotation 9.6 (4) 9.5 (5)
Bullpen 9.6 (6) 9.7 (5)
Walks per 9 innings 3.2 (14) 2.6 (3)
Rotation 2.7 (7) 2.2 (2)
Bullpen 3.8 (22) 3.1 (4)
Batting Average Against .234 (7) .228 (4)
Rotation .236 (9) .227 (4)
Bullpen .232 (9) .229 (7)
HRs per 9 innings 1.1 (10) 1.1 (11)
Rotation 1.2 (15) 1.1 (6)
Bullpen 1.0 (10) 1.2 (23)
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, BaseballSavant.com

Yet the Dodgers have at least a chance to neutralize some of the Red Sox’ strengths, given a pitching staff that features a lot of lefties who can throw nasty breaking balls. During the regular season, the Red Sox (per BaseballSavant.com) hit .168 against left-handed breaking balls, the worst mark in the majors; their .274 slugging mark against such offerings ranked second-worst. Spin-master Clayton Kershaw represents a formidable matchup given those struggles, and the same can be said of Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

The Dodgers have had fewer star-level performers than the Sox, but their depth is unmatched, with the team receiving above-average offense at every position save for second base — and with an OPS+ that was at least 14 percent better than the league average at every position except for second and left field.

The Dodgers lineup is extremely deep, made deeper by a number of valuable left-right platoon options. They hunt fastballs in the strike zone, with something of a boom-or-bust approach. Though they swung and missed at 12.6 percent of four-seamers in the zone (eighth-highest in MLB), they also raked against such offerings, posting a .547 slugging mark (seventh-highest).

“They can strike quick,” Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers said. “They trust the long ball, and they can hit the long ball. They get some runners on base and hit a home run, they can put up runs in a hurry.”

While the Dodgers can be beaten in the strike zone for swings and misses, they did the best job of staying in the strike zone of any team in the majors, swinging at just 27.2 percent of offerings that weren’t strikes. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are disciplined (they chased 29.9 percent of offerings outside of the zone) and, as a group, offer fewer holes inside the strike zone.

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“It’s obviously a lineup with speed, power, and more speed,” Hill said of the Red Sox. “You have to understand that they’re going to be able to prolong at-bats. To be able to put them away as early as possible is going to be a big key for us. The more bullets we can save, it’s just going to give us more of an opportunity to stay in the game.

“You prolong an at-bat to seven, eight pitches, or within two batters you go to 16 or 20 pitches, you can run into some trouble. Three-pitches-or-less kind of approach is going to be huge, I think, on both sides, especially speaking to our lineup, where guys have some of the best percentages of not chasing pitches out of the zone.

“So, it could be some really long games.”

The Red Sox do have a more versatile offense, particularly with a running game that allows them to manufacture runs. Whereas the Dodgers scored 42 percent of their runs on homers, the Red Sox scored 39 percent of their runs on the long ball.

Though the Dodgers pitching staff had a lower ERA than the Red Sox, some of that is attributable to games in the enormous parks of the NL West and in a league where there’s no designated hitter. In terms of strikeout rate, vulnerability to home runs, and batting average against, the two teams had strikingly similar performances throughout the regular season.

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In other words, any characterization of this World Series as a matchup of an elite lineup against an elite pitching staff represents oversimplification. Both teams do a lot of things well, in a way that makes it unsurprising that they are facing each other with a title on the line. And it will be equally unsurprising if this proves as formidable a postseason test as the Red Sox have had.


Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexspeier.